Relaxing Winter Getaway in Gorham
The Peabody River along Rte. 16 with Mt. Adams and Mt. Washington in the background. Photo by Stillman Rogers
Leaving downhill skiing for weekdays when the lines are shorter, we head to Gorham for a weekend on snowshoes and cross-country skis.
On our way through Gorham we stopped for dinner at the informal and friendly J’s Corner Restaurant. After splitting a plate of lightly breaded calamari tossed with black olives and pickled peppers, we ordered shrimp Milano and jumbo ravioli filled with grilled zucchini, eggplant, roasted red peppers and cheese in a creamy pesto sauce. The shrimp Milano was a mélange of large shrimp, artichoke hearts, capers, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers in a garlic-laced wine sauce. The cheesecake served at the next table looked so delicious that we ordered a piece to share.
The sun filled our east-facing room at the Mt. Washington Bed & Breakfast and we looked out onto the snow-covered Androscoggin River valley shimmering under a blue sky. This was a day to savor, so we hurried down to see what innkeeper Mary Ann was whipping up in the kitchen. This morning it was gingerbread pancakes and her signature pears baked in maple syrup, like starting the day with dessert. Breakfast gave us plenty of energy for our morning of snowshoeing on old logging roads alongside the Peabody River as it tumbles over frozen rocks from the slopes of Great Gulf Wilderness. The Hayes Copp Trail system explores land once farmed by Hayes and Dolly Copp, who hosted the first tourists to the White Mountains in the early 1800s.
From the White Mountain Café’s sandwich menu we ordered a Notch — turkey, bacon, cheddar, red onion and roasted red pepper pesto — on focaccia flatbread, and a Peak — roast turkey, cheddar, avocado and tomato — on multi-grain sunflower bread. The downtown café is filled with aromas of fresh-ground coffee and we finished off with a fair trade cappuccino and a mochaccino before setting off to explore downtown Gorham.
We found it well worth exploring. After browsing the excellent selection of local hiking and outdoor guides at the café’s own bookstore, we began at The Moose’s Antler (603-466-5208). The small house on Main Street holds a surprising variety of gifts, jewelry and toys, including lots of moose-themed rustic décor. Next door in Scoggins General Store we perused the candy counter and left with a small box of fudge in case we needed energizing later. In the eclectic collections in The Market Place at 101 we saw everything from vintage wooden snowshoes to Hoosier cupboards and old ski trail signs.
Turning up Exchange Street we stepped into Gateway Gallery, a showcase for local photographers and artists, as well as a gallery of White Mountain memorabilia. Exchange took us to Railroad Street and the Historical Society’s collection of rolling stock, highlighted by a pair of locomotives beside the restored 1907 railway station.
Stopping at SAaLT Pub to sample their list of local craft beers, we considered avoiding any nibbles so not to spoil our appetites for dinner. But then we reasoned, why not eat our first course in the pub? So we ordered a plate of arancini, crispy-fried balls of creamy risotto and Parmigiano/Reggiano with tomato-basil compote.
Dinner at Libby’s Bistro
Seated upstairs in the comfortable buzz of the wonderfully eclectic dining room, we pondered choices ranging from classic French to Indian, Cambodian, Moroccan and Vietnamese. I chose a Cambodian dish of caramelized pork, tomatoes, ginger, coconut milk, roasted peanuts, Thai basil and Asian egg noodles. Tim chose duck ravioli with duck confit, a savory spinach pasta with local chanterelles, caramelized baby onions and greens. Liz and Steve are all about local, from the mushrooms and meat to the pottery they’re served on and the art on the walls.
Mt. Washington B&B in Shelburne. Photo by Stillman Rogers
Breakfast this morning was a bowl of fresh fruit with homemade granola and a baked vegetable omelet, a good beginning to a day spent outdoors. The Snow Coach up the Mt. Washington Auto Road doesn’t take reservations so we wanted to be there before the line got too long. The trip was all we’d hoped for — clear skies meant good views as we climbed through the forest and into the region of rime-covered, stunted trees. The commentary was interesting and the ride exciting as the road became steeper and the ice thicker. We stopped at about 4,200 feet altitude, in the subarctic zone, to climb down from the coach for pictures of this frozen world.
As we weren’t going far for our afternoon adventure, we had lunch right there at the Glen View Café. The chili was thick, meaty and well-spiced, and the cookies fresh from the oven, but it was the view from our window table that held our attention. We had plenty more chance to admire it on our natural history ski tour of the Great Glen Trails with a guide from the Appalachian Mountain Club, a good introduction to the trail system and to the wide variety of animals whose tracks our guide identified.
Great Glen is also home to this month’s New England Bill Koch League Nordic Ski Festival (March 5-6), which rotates between New England states. This year NH won the bid and will host a weekend of activities centering upon cross-country skiing. Fans of the sport won’t want to miss the event and should also check out the excellent host hotel, the Town & Country Inn and Resort.